Review – The Secret Heart by Mary Lancaster

About the Book:

Betrayal, temptation and an impossible love.

Some suspect that Lily Villin is the true heart of the Hart Inn, a lucky house where love always seems to blossom, whatever the obstacles. But Lily has another secret. She is in love with an enigmatic nobleman, and no luck in the world can make such a marriage possible.

Randolph, Lord Torbridge, is a man of many secrets, in pursuit of a well-born traitor. But his visits to the Hart have increasingly less to do with his vital work than with the innkeeper’s beautiful daughter—until he discovers her gift for mimicry and enrolls her in a dangerous masquerade to unmask the enemy.

Being with her brings temptations he struggles to resist, for he will not ruin her, and he cannot marry so far beneath his rank.

For once, it is not Lily’s talents, but his own, which are needed for this love to blossom—along with a little luck and ingenuity.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                                    The Secret Heart (The Unmarriageable Series Book 6)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

My first experience with reading a book by new-to-me author, Mary Lancaster, left me impressed with the smooth writing, and smiling at the sheer loveliness of the story.

Randolph “Dolph” Merrick, Viscount Torbridge, secretly works for the Crown.  For years he’s hidden his true self by adopting the persona of just another frivolous aristocrat with no real substance.  Inside, though, he’s a caring and dedicated man.  He’s had many occasions to frequent the Hart Inn, where he has lost his own heart to the beautiful innkeeper’s daughter.  Torbridge realizes there is no possibility of any future between them, and he’s gentleman enough to not want her ruin.  So he treats her with courtesy and friendship, basking in her warmth, because he just can’t stay away.

Lily Villin’s heart beats faster every time Torbridge comes to the inn.  She knows that her infatuation is hopeless, as he is so far above her socially.  He never treats her as an inferior, and always listens to her.  On his current visit, Torbridge overhears Lily mimic a society lady perfectly.  Knowing that Lily has a strong intuition about people and situations, he begins to think her assistance could be a huge advantage in his next assignment.  When Lily is eager to help, Torbridge faces the daunting task of getting her parents’ permission.  By assuring them that Lily will be safely residing with his married sister, Millicent, and that all is above board, they reluctantly agree.

Lily becomes a guest at Millie’s home, pretending to be an impoverished relation.  It’s necessary for Lily to have a new wardrobe, and have a crash course in manners, so that she’ll fit in at the house party where she’ll be assisting Torbridge with his assignment.  Torbridge has always found Lily beautiful, but in her new finery, she is stunning.  Her seamless entry into society makes him wonder – is there any possible way they could manage to have a life together?

I fell in love with THE SECRET HEART and its lead characters.  The longing that Lily and Torbridge feel for each other just jumps off the pages at the reader. I felt so bad for Torbridge, for the part he had to play, and how he could never be his true self, except with Lily.  There is also a lovely secondary romance, as Millie and her husband are in the midst of a bleak period in their marriage.  The assignment itself presents some danger, and I really would have liked to see a harsher punishment for the villain, as I feel he got off very lightly for all his crimes.   The respect that Torbridge shows for Lily’s opinions indicates how highly he regards her intelligence, and her compassion when he faces a family crisis shows what a genuinely caring and empathetic person she is.  I love how Torbridge came to the realization that he has to find a way to have Lily as his wife, a way that will not allow her to be looked down upon.  I greatly enjoyed THE SECRET HEART, and Mary Lancaster’s writing.  If you enjoy a book where the romance is the star, and the characters are wonderful, I highly recommend reading this book.  I know that I’ll be checking out her future books, as well as her backlist.    ~Rose

(Note: This book is listed as part of the UNMARRIAGEABLE series.  While previous characters make appearances here, I had no problem reading this book as a standalone.)

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